Rapids 2 fell short 2-0 to league leaders Houston Dynamo 2 in a hard fought match on Sunday night at AVEVA Stadium.
"Best game of the year. You know it felt different tonight, the energy. We played against a very good opponent on a very good field. It was a rocky start and guys were on edge and it was a real fight to control the emotions over the course of 90 minutes. This is also why I am so pleased with the experience tonight. These are the types of environments we want to play in. We are upset we did not get the result; we weren't able to create enough to get the goal to get back in the game, but we were on it for 90 plus minutes. So, full credit to the opponent and absolutely full credit to every single player in our locker room,” said Rapids 2 head coach Erik Bushey.
The Sunday night match got off to a quick start with Houston gaining control and putting immediate pressure on the Rapids back line. The first 15 minutes of the match were marked by a stellar performance from Rapids 2 goalkeeper and captain Abraham Rodriguez, who made two huge saves to keep the fire and fight alive in the away side. The Rapids harnessed Rodriguez’s momentum to return the attacking pressure, moving Dynamo 2 up the field and forcing the home side to try their hand at defending. However, an earned set piece in the 27th minute allowed Houston’s Talen Maples to tap in the first goal of the night from the six yard box to give the home side the early lead in the first half.
With Houston up by one, the Rapids sprang into action and regained control of the pitch, ending the half with 59% of possession. The attack-forward Dynamo 2 continued to test Rodriguez between the sticks but the steadfast keeper managed to knock down four out of five of Houston’s shots on goal within the first 45 minutes. In the final minutes of the half, the Rapids strung together a series of attacking attempts, heading into the second half with a will to even the score and find the equalizer.
“It took us a while to change the initial trend of the game, which was us defending and us being under pressure,” said Bushey. “We made mistakes and this opponent had the ability to hurt us, so we expended so much energy early on in defending. And maybe the last third of the half we realized, hold on we can do this, we can advance the ball, we can receive the ball to face forward, we can hurt them. And I think once we were able to do that, at that point the game did change. We were able to get them turned around. We were able to make them defend and when we couldn't keep the ball, our effort to defend was first class."
The Rapids started the second half with a lot of promise as the Colorado back line kept a hungry Houston side at bay. The opening minutes saw both sides teeter back and forth with possession but Rapids 2 forward Yaya Toure kicked the attack into high gear in the 59th minute sending a blasting shot towards Houston’s goal. Toure’s attack-first mentality struck a chord with the team as they put together a slew of attempts throughout the second half, forcing Dynamo’s goalkeeper Xavier Valdez to test his strength between the sticks. Ultimately, the boys in burgundy were not able to find the equalizer and one final goal from Houston’s Diego Gonzalez ended the night in a 2-0 loss for Colorado.
“A good performance and I wouldn't take anything away from what we put out there,” said Rapids 2 forward Yaya Toure. “We did everything we could to fight for the badge. That has been what I have been starting to do. It's not about me anymore, it is about the unit. It's about the whole entire group, not even just the 11 but the guys that are on the bench too. It comes from everyone. One person slacks off and it is something that is an energy sucker, it spreads, it becomes contagious, and everyone catches it. But overall, it was a good performance."
Rapids 2 will head into another road match against the San Jose Earthquakes II on Sunday, May 15 at PayPal Park. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT.